Charles Mingus – The Great Concert of Charles Mingus

Format: LPx3

Style: Post-Bop, Avant-Garde Jazz

Vibe: Bombastic, Passionate, Energetic, Intense, Manic, Playful

Musical Attributes: Complex, Dynamic, Live, Improvisation, Acoustic, Instrumental, Polyphonic, Progressive, Rhythmic

John Surman, John McLaughlin, Dave Holland, Karl Berger, Stu Martin – Where Fortune Smiles

Style: Free Jazz, Avant-Garde Jazz

Vibe: Triumphant, Energetic, Epic, Exploratory, Loose, Spiritual, Suspenseful, Angular, Chaotic

Musical Attributes: Polyphonic, Progressive, Complex, Dissonant, Dynamic, Technical, Acoustic, Improvisation (Collective, Thematic), Instrumental

Doug Carn – Spirit of the New Land

Style: Spiritual Jazz, Black Liberation Music, Vocal Jazz

Vibe: Triumphant, Uplifting, Conscious, Groovy, Passionate, Poetic, Cathartic, Spiritual

Musical Attributes: Improvisation, Dynamic, Acoustic, Progressive, Rhythmic, Technical, Melodic, Complex

Albert Ayler – New Grass

One can only imagine how Ayler bringing more commercial styles like R&B, Rock, and Gospel into his avant-garde music messed with critics and fans alike when it came out—the way it looked like commercial pandering to the Free Jazz listeners but was probably still too weird for new listeners. It helps to remember that Ayler came from R&B and went straight to the Free Spiritual Jazz of the early 60s, making Jazz critics highly skeptical skeptical by not climbing the bebop ranks like Coltrane before plunging into freedom. On New Grass, Ayler really started to synthesize the spiritual elements of many forms of Great Black Music, making more accessible music not as a way of selling out, but a way of sharing his beautiful spiritual message and sound with a wider audience. Plus this thing has Bernard Purdie on drums so of course it slaps.
If you dig this LP, I think he succeeded in this sound direction even more on his following albums Love Cry and Music is the Healing Force of the Universe. Albert Ayler was a pure soul that left this world too soon, grateful for the gifts of music and wisdom he left behind.

John Coltrane – Live at the Village Vanguard Again!

Style: Spiritual Jazz, Free Jazz
Vibe: Passionate, Spiritual, Exploratory, Triumphant, 
Musical Attributes: Complex, Modal, Thematic, Acoustic, Live, Improvisation, Dynamic, Instrumental

Pharoah Sanders – Village of the Pharoahs

Style: Spiritual Jazz, Free Jazz
Vibe: Communal, Earthy, Energetic, Hypnotic, Intense, Loose, Mystical, Passionate, Spiritual, Tribal, Uplifting, Warm, Dance
Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Complex, Collective Improvisation, Percussive, Dense, Thematic, Suite

Ornette Coleman Double Quintet – Free Jazz

Style: Free Jazz

Vibe: Communal, Bombastic, Complex, Energetic, Passionate, Chaotic

Musical Attributes: Collective Improvisation, Dense, Instrumental, Acoustic, Dynamic, Polyphonic

Irreversible Entanglements – Who Sent You?

Irreversible Entanglements follows up the scathing fire music of their debut with regenerative and ritualistic earth music. “Who Sent You?”, is a record that looks not only to the violent “rhythms of oppression”, past and present, that need to be burnt to the ground, but to a future built from the ashes of these unjust systems. Irreversible Entanglements are simply one of the most powerful bands in existence, building their symbiotic improvisations with fervent passion, hypnotic rhythm, and urgent truths.

Cecil Taylor – Conquistador

Style: Free Jazz
Vibe: Abstract, Energetic, Passionate, Complex
Musical Attributes: Improvisation, Polyphonic, Polyrhythmic, Dissonant, Poly-Free

Favorite Records of 2019 [List & DJ Mix]

The other day I asked myself how I could possibly be thinking about music when the continuing dangers of capitalist-imperialism, … More

Cecil Taylor – Unit Structures

Album Information: Originally released in 1966 on Blue Note Records Recorded May 19, 1966 1973 Reissue Format: LP Personnel: Cecil … More

Makaya McCraven – Universal Beings

Released in 2018 on International Anthem Recording Co. Format: LPx2

Circle – Paris-Concert

While more cerebral than emotive, this live set is a frenzied demonstration of what four virtuosic musicians sound like when they give in to the intuitive whims of collective improvisation. Even when playing a composition, this quartet will stretch and mutate the melody into every possible pattern without ever playing it directly. The group interplay is often bombastic and can be overwhelming, but thankfully they vary the dynamics through mellower sections, as well as solo and duo pieces.

Anthony Shadduck – Quartet & Double Quartet

“Side one features a collection of songs performed by a pliant and almost pristine quartet playing songs by Ornette Coleman, Paul Motian, Chris Schlarb, and Shadduck himself, while side two finds Anthony leading a loose, rocking and roiling double quartet performing more obliquely structures pieces and employing a healthy dose of spontaneous improvisation. Both ensembles strike my ear as CLASSIC, spanning the areas of jazz impressionism and edgy-yet-controlled “free jazz” with dedication and distinction.”
[From the liner notes, written by Nels Cline]

Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society – Simultonality

Over the past decade, Josh Abrams has been using his guimbri to create music inspired by the ceremonial music of the Gnawa in North Africa, infusing it with a wide variety of influences from kosmische to minimalism to the avant-garde jazz of his local scene in Chicago. On this album, the focus is on “pure motion” driven by double drummers hypnotically interlocking with guimbri, guitar, keys and harmonium. Each individual plays unique rhythmic figures that push and pull against each other like polyrhythmic tectonic plates, creating constantly changing, yet circular grooves.

Irreversible Entanglements – Irreversible Entanglements

“Four relentless bouts of inspired fire music forged from the true spirit of free jazz, driven by searing poetic narrations of Black trauma, survival and power” (from press release)

Click for review

Miles Davis – Get Up With It

This fantastic compilation album consists of 2 hours of unreleased recording sessions ranging from 1970 to 1974. Despite some incohesiveness, this release contains some of the most exciting, creative and uncategorizable music of Miles’ career.

Julian Priester Pepo Mtoto – Love, Love

I highly recommend this album to fans of the innovative and exploratory period of jazz fusion of the early 70’s, where electric instrumentation, funk rhythms, experimental production techniques, and spacey synthesizers met the improvisation, freedom, and uplifting soul of the spiritual jazz of the 60’s. Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi trilogy, Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, Weather Report’s first LP are good touchstones, but this album truly offers something unique.

Kamasi Washington – The Epic

Kamasi Washington and his band The Next Step, pick up where their forefathers and mothers left off by making spiritual jazz that respects the jazz canon without getting stuck in the past. This album ranges from free to groovy to melodic without losing sight of its mission. The inclusion of such a large band, an orchestra, a choir, and even a turntablist allows an infinite, colorful array of tonal and dynamic possibilities.